*This article was submitted to TechCabal by the Bird Stories Agency.
Google recently announced the expansion of its offline translation by adding 33 new languages, including nine African languages, to the Google Translate app on iOS and Android.
This now brings the total number of African languages supported by Google to 12.
Arabic, Swahili, and Afrikaans have been supported by the Google Translate offline translation tool since 2018, when Google launched the feature.
The Nigerian Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages and the southern African languages Sesotho, Xhosa, Zulu and Shona are part of the newly added languages.
Additionally, Kinyarwanda, which is spoken in Rwanda and other parts of East Africa, and Chichewa, which is common in Malawi and Zambia, will serve a broader audience across the continent.
According to Google, the offline feature “allows users to download the languages of interest and translate text when no internet connection is available.”
The additional languages are therefore looking to expand the use of the feature, with the overall goal of driving multicultural inclusion and appealing to a broader audience.
The offer will also boost the global recognition and acceptance of African languages and potentially increase their use.
According to Ofer Tirosh, a language and machine translation expert, about 50 million people already speak Yoruba and Igbo.
In a 2021 research paper, “African Languages: A Closer Look at the Languages of Africa,” Tirosh documents the place of translation in the globalization of business.
“Globalization is key to business success…translation serves to remove the language barriers that limit globalization,” he said.
Tirosh added that adding additional African languages to offline functionality “adds value to an already thriving online translation space for African languages.”
In addition to Google Translate, Google has continued to integrate African languages into its innovations and technology updates.
Gboard, the Google keyboard, supports custom commands and accents in up to 200 African languages.
In addition to Google, Meta platforms have also strived to provide features that offer commands and results specific to African languages.
For example, No Language Left Behind, Meta’s NLLB, an open source AI functionality, can translate Internet content into about 60 African languages on Meta platforms.
Meta’s Instagram Lite also supports Swahili, Amharic and Oromo, some of the most widely spoken languages in East Africa.
Africa is linguistically diverse, with an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 living languages and major and minor languages.
Hausa, for example, is a major African language, spoken by around 75 million people, while more than 25 million people speak Hausa as their first language.